Monday, June 30, 2014

Visit Scarfolk Today

I have added a new destination to the 'Places You Really Ought To Visit' on the right.

"Scarfolk is a town in North West England that did not progress beyond 1979. Instead, the entire decade of the 1970s loops ad infinitum. Here in Scarfolk, pagan rituals blend seamlessly with science; hauntology is a compulsory subject at school, and everyone must be in bed by 8pm because they are perpetually running a slight fever. "Visit Scarfolk today. Our number one priority is keeping rabies at bay." "

To those of us of a certain age Scarfolk is an only slightly twisted version of our British adolescence. 

It is very funny,pleasingly warped and its 'documents' and 'ephemera' are just delicious for those raised on Playschool, the Country Code and British public information T.V. spots. 

And yet again, Britain in the first half of the 1970s looks more disturbingly Stalinist than it seemed at the time.

The Great June Clearance

There were several days out that I hadn't yet had time to download/viciously edit/post from the month of June. So, while it still is June, I better clear them out.

June 13th was opening day for the Botanical Garden native butterfly house and so that of course warranted a visit. But before we got so far as that we passed by the frog bog for a good number of dragonflies.

The Slaty Skimmer

Needham's Skimmer

And the Halloween Pennant

In the butterfly house there were beasts everywhere but, as usual, lots of people in the way. But did manage to find the beautifully posed and thoroughly preoccupied Monarch

And many many Zebra Swallowtails, feeding on a variety of flowers and laying their eggs on the leaves of the Paw-Paw. Nothing else just the Paw-Paw...the single species. Very picky about the host plant are the Zebras and that's why, even around here, distribution is so spotty. Where there are no local Paw-Paw then you'll not find a Zebra while a few miles away you'll find hundreds.
Other pictures from that trip include these millipedes found in a colony living in a hollow between branches of the tree. (Oxidus gracilis)
This long horn flower beetle (Strangalia famelica)
The Diurnal Firefly below

And this little bee visiting the Black Eyed Susan.

A Common White Tail (immature male) and Eastern Amber Wing

Back in our own backyard this last weekend we had the first high summer Black Swallowtail caterpillars. Though it looks so far as if this isnt going to be a very good year for them. Numbers are low and there seem to be a lot of wasps taking cats when they reach the 'right' size.
This one had just completed its first molt thats the discarded skin on the dill behind it.

I've shot this leaf hopper, the Broad-Headed Sharpshooter (Oncometopia orbona)
before in the yard but this one stayed long enough for a decent picture. I still think it looks like a jewel or the jeweled vampire automaton in Del Toro's Kronos.

Blasted birds still refuse to cooperate. I had to shoot this little Downy Woodpecker between the slats of the fence as it ate earwigs from the bark of a buddleia.

June done, here come July.
 And this year we'll be around all month. Vacation doesn't roll around until beginning of September this year.

I'll update with fuller IDs on the mystery beasts as soon as I have them. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Blue & Brown

A skipper, likely a Sachem but who knows it's a LBJ (Little Brown Job) happily feeding on the mass of blue flowers that is the Vitex.
The blue flowered tree and the half-a-bedfull of Beebalm beneath it make this the most colorful couple of weeks in the garden.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Flashes of Colour

From Hoffler Creek yesterday

A newly hatched Needham's Skimmer, which were everywhere.

A Halloween Skimmer which are just starting to appear in numbers now but will be everywhere and brighter soon.
And the damselfly Rambur's Forktail (Ischnura ramburii) a female of the orange form.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Beautiful... For a Wasp

A tiny cuckoo wasp in the garden yesterday. One of the Chrysidinae. This ones not just metallic green it's actually Hammerited and rivetted!

Friday, June 6, 2014


Warming up now with summer just about here and hurricane season officially started (whoo whoo :-l )
And the dragonflies are finally out in numbers and I've been shooting them in the yard plus another trip to Norfolk Botanical.

The Painted Skimmer that I shot for the first time last summer at Hoffler Creek seems to be moving in around here in bigger numbers all of a sudden. They have been all over the yard the last couple of weeks and are especially fond of the tips of the fence posts where they will happily perch for ages zipping out now and then to grab a mosquito or midge to munch on and returning to munch and pose.

The Eastern Pondhawk is always with us. This is a young male still green and black with very little change to blue, just a shading on the thorax maybe.

The Blue Dashers too are numerous, over the course of the season I'm sure we see more of these than any other species. And they are another percher that will patiently let you take its picture and even if disturbed will return to the same perch so long as you stand still for a moment.

It is interesting how the species that turn up in the yard have changed somewhat over the 10 years I've been here. This is an Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera) a very small dragon that used to be very numerous on the pond and in the yard too. But this was the first I've seen this year and it made me think that I rarely see one at all these last couple of years. Ponds change, become more or less vegetated, the fish and turtle populations change and the dragonfly populations change with them. Amberwings particularly skim very low over the pond surface and seem to be prey to larger fish and turtles.

The Four Spotted Pennant (above) used to be very common too using the same fence post perches as the Painted Skimmers do now. But I haven't seen one in the yard in around 5 years.... very odd.

Meanwhile, back in Norfolk,  Great Blue Skimmers were everywhere immature males like the top one of theses, not yet turned blue. The third is half turned with a blue thorax and a blue sheen to the abdomen but the immature stripes still visible.

There were beasts to be seen besides dragonflies though. 
Above is the Painted Lady (Vanessa atalanta) which looks very like its american cousin V. virginiensis but there are differences in the underwing eye spots. The American Lady has fewer but larger spots spots on the hind underwing.

This is my first Fritillary of the year, the passionflower loving Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)

The Margined Leatherwing (Chauliognathus marginatus) is a very common flower beetle found in huge numbers especially on umbelliferae where they feed on pollen and nectar.  

I'm still waiting to ID this little black/metallic green/cream jumping spider but I'll update when its done. I think maybe a Pellegrina species (but I'm usually wrong). 
And of course I am! Its actually Paraphidippus aurantius

And just look how great the gardens were looking in the low late afternoon sun as we walked through the woodlands.